Hey, all you Scandinavians. Here’s another great piece of literature for your Norse collections.
Hakon of Rogen’s Saga, by Erik Christian Haugaard, illustrated by Leo and Diane Dillon first published in 1963 by Houghton Mifflin first University of Minnesota Press edition — 2013
The wind blew from the east and carried the voices of the invaders up to us on the mountain. We watched them take possession of our homes, and knew by the rising smoke from the hole in the roof above the hearth that the fires had been lit again. We were so near our homes that we could see everything; and yet, so far away that most of us despaired of ever living in them again.
As Thora had feared, it was not Magnus Thorsen who led the invaders, but his nephew, Rolf Blackbeard, renowned for his ability with a sword and his courage. But courage without pity and feeling is mere brutality, and deserves more contempt than cowardliness does…
On Odin’s Day, ten days after their arrival, the enemy attacked in force.
Hakon, son of Olaf, should gain the small island kingdom of Rogen as his birthright, but fierce animosity has sprung up between Hakon’s father and his treacherous uncle, Sigurd, as well as with his stepmother Thora’s people.
Thora, the only mother he has ever known, was brought to Rogen by Olaf after Hakon’s mother died. In the process, both kingdoms had insulted one another gravely. Revenge from Thora’s people is certain and sure to be pitiless.As a 12-year-old boy, Hakon is as yet untested in battle or leadership. All that will change quickly, though, when his father is killed and it falls to him to avenge his death and restore peace to Rogen. Exciting stuff! And Hakon is impetuous enough to land in the middle of perilous situations at every turn.
Erik Haugaard was a renowned Danish author who wrote many fine novels for young people. This saga contains all the heroic elements of old Norse culture — pride, harshness, intrigue, adventure, battle, treachery — as well as poetic reflections on life and death. It makes a superb read-aloud, or a short-ish (132 pages) novel for about 4th grade and up.
The gorgeous woodcuts by Leo and Diane Dillon are dark, intense, and atmospheric.